The (impermeable) Highway

Looking back when The Highway wasn’t the daunting deathtrap it is today.
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The one thing that keeps returning to my mind when I’ve been writing this blog (maybe not when reviewing my iron) has been the change to the physical environment of Wapping, mainly post the closure of the docks, but also post the Second World War.

For a while, I’ve been looking into two questions that have been annoying me. The first: when did Cannon Street Road adopt its stupid name and the second: when was the Highway widened.

A few months ago I went to an exhibition at the Royal Academy on Nicholas Hawksmoor, a pupil of Christopher Wren and who designed six churches in London. There are two in the East End – St Anne’s Limehouse and St George in the East (STGITE) on The Highway. At the exhibition there was an aerial photograph of the bombed out wreck of STGITE, which I noticed today on the STGITE website and which I’ve stolen for my blog (it’s ok, they have some of my photos from the church tower, so it’s a fair trade).

It’s one thing to look at victorian photos and think how times have changed, but looking back only 60 years or so, it’s amazing how different the area looks. I find it striking to see buildings abutting onto The Highway south of STGITE, where there is now a broad pavement, but then your eye wanders and notices the swimming pool is missing, then the entire St George’s estate, but then, looking carefully you see cars on The Highway and you realise that there are cars parked either sideof the road (look at the closeness of the two cars opposite the end of Wapping lane and the car on the otherside of the road facing east). In the 1960s, The Highway was pretty much a suburban thoroughfare. Without labouring a point, I find it fascinating!

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